it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1.  “I have been a reader of your site since 2009, and I finally put your advice about negotiating salary to work! I received an offer for a position at a base salary that I would have absolutely accepted at face value, but I gave myself a moment to ask, ‘Is there any chance you can come up a bit on that?’ and then stopped talking. I didn’t present a specific number as a counter (note to self for next time), but even just the ask was a big step for me.

The hiring manager got back to me the next day with an increase of about 4.5%, which I gladly accepted. Obviously I would have had a target number in mind in the ideal situation, but even just the open ask meant that I wasn’t leaving money on the table.

Thanks for your easy scripts and reminders to advocate for yourself!”

2.  “For a while I was actively avoiding Friday Good News posts, because I was so unhappy and pessimistic about my own situation. Obviously, since I’m writing this, things have changed significantly.

I have ten years of experience in my field, and it’s one with a lot of positions in a lot of different organizations in my area. So it should be relatively easy to find a decent role. But I had two major obstacles: 1) that 10 years of experience was spread over 15 years of my life, because I have a chronic health issue that has caused attendance problems at every job I’ve ever had, and my job history has a few gaps where I was on disability, and 2) I am desperately bored with my particular field and have been wanting to get out for years (but kept getting reeled back in because when you’re trying to overcome a potentially problematic history, it’s a lot easier to get hired for something you’ve been doing for a while.)

I ended up working with a temp agency that specializes in placing people with disabilities, and in December I finished a two-year contract (in the field I’m burned out on, at a lower level than I’m qualified for, at 2/3 the pay I would ordinarily be making, but it’s a good length to have at the top of my resume). There have been some lifestyle and treatment changes that had me feeling better about my chances of actually working all the days I’m supposed to work, and of course to qualify for unemployment you have to apply for jobs, so I didn’t/couldn’t wait around for another contract to come available.

This is when the good news starts. The contract ended at the beginning of December, and I knew that any responses to job applications were unlikely until after the holidays. Sure enough, not a peep on anything until February. And then, in the space of three weeks, I interviewed for four jobs (only one of which was the type of role I’ve been trying to escape). And got two offers.

I’ve been reading AAM for several years now, and I credit that with helping me do well in (most of) the interviews, being able to accurately assess how well I did, and not feeling devastated about the one I bombed while dealing with a lot of personal stress. It also meant I had a plan for managing multiple offers.

I’ve been at my new job for four weeks now, and I am thrilled about it every day. It’s different enough from my past experience that I’m able to challenge myself and learn new things, but it still plays to my strengths and my experience gives me a perspective that adds value to the team. It’s a very Goldilocks situation – my boss is neither a micromanager nor negligently hands-off, she is just right. The team is neither indifferent nor overly involved with each other, but just right. It’s a very flexible hybrid schedule, which is better for me than either 100% in office or 100% remote. And so on. I could write a whole letter on how excellent my boss is, but for brevity’s sake I’ll keep it to: if you and I weren’t both Jewish, Alison, I’d say that I wrote you a letter with everything I wanted and you came down the chimney and dropped her off.

All that and the pay is decent too! I haven’t taken any sick time at all this month, which is unremarkable for most people but very exciting for me. And I’m back to happily reading the good news posts.”

3.   “I’ve been reading your blog for about 4 years, since I graduated college with my bachelors in math at the end of 2018. I started out as an administrative assistant for a large shipping company in Pittsburgh at $42k. I job-hopped after a year and a half to an insurance company for a $10k increase. I have been working on my Master’s (fully paid for by my company and which is not required to be paid back) in business analytics over the past two years and just finished yesterday! A year ago I applied for a job as a fully remote data analyst at another company, but there were several hiccups in the process, where they told me back and forth twice that they had decided not to hire. But the third time was the charm! I was extended an offer yesterday for the position. And thanks to your blog’s wonderful advice, I negotiated my initial request of $68k last year to $75k this year, and they offered me the position at $72.5k! Currently seeing if I can get a few more vacation days in line with my current position (I haven’t quit yet, but fully plan to accept the offer!), but I should be starting in less than a month!”

4.  “A few years ago, I was talked into applying for a job I was well-qualified and well-suited for, but didn’t want. It’s a service-based organization, so when the pressure came from our seniors that I should apply — down to bribery with cookies! — I caved. I can do anything for a few years, right? I’m known for fixing things and solving hard problems. How bad could it possibly be?

Nightmare fuel, that’s how terrible. I’ve redacted a lot of identifiable information and examples that would also have given you fuel for a thousand short responses and fits of indignant rage.

I knew it wasn’t good, but I was invested in the system after so many years. No one ever leaves! It’s normal to handle everything, that just means you’re ready for the next step! I had the power to enact occasional small changes that made life marginally better for others! Those major, terrifying health issues are normal!

Then a friend prompted me with a job advertisement. Why not apply?

That’s when I was able to start distancing enough to realize that my normal was neither normal nor good. My confidence, resilience, and self-esteem were all gone. I was exhausted after years of ridiculously long days and perpetually snappish after constant interruptions in a job that required deep work. I even understood why my predecessor had left a bottle of alcohol in my office cabinet – which horrified me when I found it. (It still horrifies me. But I get why he went that direction. Last heard, he’s enjoying a happier retirement.)

In other words, the more I looked at Old Job, the more I realized the entire organization had transitioned from idealistic goals into a stagnant monstrosity that sucked and wasn’t going to change. It was this situation, complete with all the consequences of burnout.

New Job was a good deal. Old Job was shocked, shocked! that I would ever walk away from power and influence. During exit interviews, I discovered they’d been about to pile still more on my plate, because I’m The Person Who Fixes Things. I guess they thought I would just keep fixing things forever. Rather than planning the transition to an acting (title), my manager kept asking if I’d rescinded my resignation yet. It’s fallen apart, since I was handling everything, so I’m told rumors are a mix of what I’m being blamed for, when I’ll come back to fix it all again, and hateful gossip about when (not if) I’ll fail.

I genuinely wish Old Job the utmost success, but love my new job. I’ve been there just long enough to take the rose-colored glasses mostly off, and it’s a lot of adjustments – but it doesn’t matter. The contrast between the two organizations was obvious the first day. And I’m me again.”

{ 35 comments… read them below }

  1. Love to WFH*

    #4. “During exit interviews, I discovered they’d been about to pile still more on my plate, because I’m The Person Who Fixes Things.”

    I was in a job where I had 12 direct reports. I was often booked almost solid in meetings from 8am to 5pm. One day a week, I had a meeting at 6am. Another day, I had one that ended at 7pm. In addition to all those meeting, I received about 300 emails per day.

    When I gave notice, I was told that I should stick around because I was about to be promoted. Oh, hell no.

    1. Shoes*

      Congrats to you and LW#4.

      This is my reminder to for folks in less than ideal situations to do their best to remember (or learn) what is appropriate and normal despite being in a toxic situation. I know it’s hard, but knowing is half the battle.

    2. Ama*

      I spent two of the almost four years I was in a toxic job as “The Person Who Fixes Things” pointing out to my boss that I had too much on my plate, that they were continuously putting things on my plate that weren’t at all appropriate for my role — at one point, my General Academic Admin role included Kitchen Manager, Facilities Purchase Manager, Development Database Policy Setter, and a side of Backup IT Support, and I avoided becoming an actual Rental Property Manager by the skin of my teeth — every single one of those roles was something someone else in the building *should* have done but either outright refused to do or said they would do it but then left it for so long, it got dumped on me so it would actually get done.

      When I left, my boss said “I’m trying to figure out why your role winds up as the catch all for everything,” as if I hadn’t been telling her for years that it was because she and other senior staff refused to manage the people who weren’t doing their jobs.

      1. Goldenrod*

        This is the part of your post that triggered me the most:
        “at one point, my General Academic Admin role included Kitchen Manager”

        Ugh!! So angering! Glad you got out of there.

    3. Momma Bear*

      It is always these jobs that are *shocked* that the overworked employee leaves and does not want a promotion. Very tone deaf of them.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This! As another “Person Who Fixes Things” plus all of the parental load it shook me to realize how much I identify with Luisa from Encanto.

        1. Random Dice*

          Oh yegods yes.

          Luisa shook me to the core. I ugly-cried the first three times I watched Encanto, and then found a therapist.

  2. Ellen*

    omg, letterwriter number 4, other than not being remote, right down to finding new, healthier job roughly 4 weeks ago, same! I’m having ptsd symptoms from old job, complete with nightmares and crying jags.

  3. Goldenrod*

    Yay, congrats and well done to you all!

    #2 – I have found that a great boss is a unicorn to be cherished. So glad you found one!

    #3 – “I genuinely wish Old Job the utmost success, but love my new job.” You are a better person than I am. I wish them ill! Also, “nightmare fuel,” what a great description.

    1. MsM*

      I wish Old Job precisely the level of success they deserve. (And the other good employees their own happy landings, if Old Job continues the “OP’s the worst! When are they coming back?!” nonsense.)

      1. Cats and Bats Rule*

        +1! I don’t know what banana crackers world this Old Job is living in, but I want to never visit there.

  4. Mztery1*

    This is the first time I’ve ever had real misgivings about what constitutes “good news.”

    For LW number two, it’s fantastic. You finally found a position that you believe will accommodate your condition. But given that you have 10 years of challenges in being able to meet attendance requirements, I wonder if it would make sense to a question official accommodation? I hope the improvements in your condition last, but I also think it might be good to be prepared so you can keep this wonderful job.

    For LW number three, I know that our first responsibility is to ourselves and I firmly believe that. But if a company has fully paid for your masters and data analytics, do they not have an opening for you? Do you not want to stay there? Did they not meet your salary requirements? It’s such a rare animal that a company pays for an advanced degree and doesn’t expect to be paid back, that I would certainly have inquired about what they would have to offer. It seems… Just not quite right to me.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Re: the degree, I would read the fine print. Sometimes there’s an expectation of working x time after the degree is paid for. I hope LW is right that there’s no string, but I’d double verify that. One reason I did not accept a certificate class from an old company was I doubted I’d be there for the required timeframe after.

    2. Off Plumb*

      I’m LW2, and you’re absolutely right that I need to have good systems in place. If there were an official accommodation I could think of that would help, I’d jump on it. And if it looks like I’ll need one in the future, I won’t hesitate to bring it up. (I don’t want to get in the weeds of what my specific issues are or why I haven’t asked for accommodations in the past.) I’ve been at this job for 3 months now and everything is still fantastic. The main Good News here can basically be summarized as “For a time I was afraid I was unemployable at worst and stuck in a field I’d burned out on at best, and now I have what’s looking like the best boss and best job I’ve ever had.” Whatever happens in the future, I think it’s helpful (for me and for others) to know that this kind of thing is possible, and that paths exist that can take you from hopeless to happy. And that AAM is a great resource for navigating those paths.

  5. Rosyglasses*

    The last LW could be me. I think my organization will be shocked SHOCKED when I submit my resignation next month with no job lined up because I need some time to recover my health and figure out what I really want to do. My logical brain is scared to quit and walk away from the flexibility and money but my body knows its past time.

  6. HigherEdEscapee*

    OP #2, as a disabled person, I would LOVE to know what agency this is “I ended up working with a temp agency that specializes in placing people with disabilities” Is that something you can share? Is it in the US and national? Thanks for considering.

    1. garblesnark*

      Yes, I’m disabled and while I lucked out at my current job & they’ve just accepted my accommodations, I can’t be sure for next time.

    2. Off Plumb (LW2)*

      The particular agency I worked with is specific to my city, but I think there are other places in the US that do similar things. (It probably helps if you live somewhere with a lot of public sector jobs, because they often have hiring goals when it comes to employees with disabilities. That’s where my career was already, so it was perfect for me.)

    1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Yes, that was my highlight too! It’s so true how much a change of job can help us come back to ourselves.

  7. The Person Who Fixes Things (LW#4)*

    Major thanks to Alison for publishing my letter! And much love to all the commenters who took the time to comment on #4.

    I sent back some ideas for improvements at OldJob’s request. All were considered too difficult to implement. I’ve since become persona non grata, though I hear everything there continues to get worse.

    I don’t miss it. There just isn’t any real comparison.

    No job is perfect, but I had no idea life could be so good. I’m moving on, rocking the new job, and continuing to recover from burnout.

    For all those other People Who Fix Things, don’t forget to include fixing yourself as well. Sometimes that’s the answer, in the face of the unfixable org that will eat you alive.

    Good luck, y’all!

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      So incredibly happy for you for getting out of that house of bees! As MsM said above, I wish Old Job precisely the level of success they deserve. Sounds like that’s what they’re getting.

    2. Purple Jello*

      If they had really wanted to fix things, they would have done it while you were there. They just wanted a new “easy fix” — which had been you while you were an employee.

      I left my penultimate job because there was nothing further I could do for the company with the restrictions they had put upon me. I chose not to continue banging my head on the wall and overworking. Glad you did too. Congratulations.

    3. Random Dice*

      I’m glad you’re so nice about wishing them well, but even with all the details omitted, I’m inclined to say “eff them” and to hope for karma to continue to make their lives difficult.

    4. Addison DeWitt*

      “I’m told rumors are a mix of what I’m being blamed for, when I’ll come back to fix it all again, and hateful gossip about when (not if) I’ll fail.”
      “I’ve since become persona non grata, though I hear everything there continues to get worse.”

      The way to think about that old job is that it’s like the small town from which you’re the one person to move to the big city. They’re going to be there badmouthing you, but you won’t know about it because you’re on Broadway! Who cares how they gripe about you in ol’ Hamhockville, you can’t hear them from the bright lights.

    5. 653-CXK*

      Wow, LW#4, you escaped a hive colony of bees, hornets, and wasps, along with a few bullet ants for good measure.

      It seems that businesses only react when you drop several balls and it causes real pain; they want to get the maximum out of you while paying peanuts. The sheer gall of pressuring you to rescind your resignation, finding out they were about to pile even more work onto you (without additional pay, I surmise), and are now persona-non-grata because you are no longer doing their bidding, confirms you made the right decision in finding a new job.

    6. LisTF*

      they kept asking when you were going to rescind your resignation/when you are coming back but they didn’t even come up with a counteroffer to try to get you to stay??? the level of undervalue and disrespect (and delusion on their part) is staggering.

    7. Implosions?!*

      Wow, LW4, are you sure you didn’t work for the Organization for Transformative Works/Archive of Our Own? This is so eerily like what’s recently coming to light about the terrible practices and volunteer abuse/exploitation over there, I legit thought you were gonna reference them in your letter. It’s sad that there are multiple places this bad, let alone one.

  8. Looking for an old question sent in*

    Does anyone remember the following post and can they point me to it. From what I can remember OP wrote in saying the a coworker was hiring a friend or professional acquaintances child to be a volunteer/intern/something entry level. I think the industry was something fairly competitive but I could be wrong. OP didn’t think it was fair that someone should be hired just because they had connections. OP said her office seemed to take DEI seriously so she wanted to bring it them. Allison agreed with OP and I think provided some examples of what to say.

Comments are closed.